Review: Onyx (@ONYX_HQ) Live At Jazz Café!

19.05.14  Review- Onyx

 The even­ing was irrit­ably humid. Upon arrival to the Cam­den Under­ground sta­tion, the scene was quietly busy, with the usu­al hustle and bustle of North Lon­don­ers, tour­ists’ com­menters and all in sun­dry engaged in their respect­ive busi­ness. My stom­ach began to rumble, and that queasy feel­ing of hun­gri­ness resided in my torso. The falafel wrap and pizza slice I con­sumed from a loc­al store hit the spot- leav­ing me nour­ished but slightly dehyd­rated. My friend had just stepped off the tube him­self- there was no time to buy some water. The night to come at the Jazz café was immin­ent; there was no more time for stal­lin’. Police were sta­tioned at the junc­tion blockin’ off the road with their car as we walked by. We heard the sound of the crowd roar as we stepped in, hassle free after minor dis­cus­sions with the door­man, and a quick search. The occa­sion before us com­menced with no fur­ther delay, filled with no expect­a­tions as the Bud­dah him­self once advised…

The arena was rammed, and the ten­sion lingered in the envir­on­ment through­out all present. They were already on stage- and the crowd went wild mak­ing sure every­one knew about it. The con­ges­tion was like being on the north­ern line at 5:30pm, sharp- cramped and barely any room to breathe. But the atmo­sphere was hyped like the Roman Coli­seum two thou­sand years ago. There were no anim­als here though, but there were gla­di­at­ors, with quick-fire vocal spears and lyr­ic­al shield­ing. The days chal­lenge was “that bullsh*t hip-hop!” There was no con­test… the win­ner was clear, but the war had been waged, and the fans too had one fin­ger in the air salut­ing the com­mon enemy. Next thing you know nuff people in the space are yelling “Wake­DaFucUp!!” from the 2013 release.

Onyx were tear­ing the stage up, the col­lect­ive energy was the moun­tain­ous as Kili­man­jaro, all anti­cip­a­tion had been lost, immersed into a blaze of beau­ti­ful aggres­sion, channeled through the intens­i­fied Hip Hop pres­ence of Sticky Fin­gaz and Fre­dro Starr. “The real Hip Hop is over here!” fol­lowed by a rendi­tion of Shif­tee, for those shifty N*ggaz…

The cuts thrown in by the DJ wreaked hav­oc caus­ing silence to linger amongst the heavy breath­ing 500 people listen­ing in great con­ten­tion; “Over 30 years ago these people in Ger­many were mak­ing this sound… this Boom Bap sound, like KRS-One! Boom-Bap, Boom-Bap!” refer­ring to Kraft­work, and oth­er sim­il­ar music­al sounds of the era. Fol­low­ing in quick suc­ces­sion, it was gun fin­gers in the air, almost mim­ick­ing a salute to the sky — “when I say buck buck, ya’ll say Buck Back!” The room increased the decibels in explos­ive pro­gres­sion! “BUCK BACK!” res­on­ated across the acous­tics of the Jazz Café with immense momentum.

The audi­ence under­stood with grace and clar­ity, what was being wit­nessed was no attempt to incite viol­ence amongst us. Years of oppres­sion and the need of self-expres­sion accu­mu­lated into what was fun and over­stand­ing. We under­stood the lyr­i­cists rip­pin’ the stage before us had opened an amaz­ing Hip Hop Appre­ci­ation Week by main­tain­ing pos­it­ive, non-viol­ent life­styles. People to the cen­ter of the stage were frantic­ally push­ing, raging and even vault­ing on top of each oth­er in a sweat-filled testoster­one fire. But it was cool. Why? Cause Fre­dro Starr shouted out many Hip Hop Emcee’s we miss and remem­ber; 2‑Pac, MCA, Big L, Jam Mas­ter Jay, Big Pun, Nate Dogg, the Notori­ous BIG, Easy E, Guru, ODB and X1… many styles of self-expres­sion that are no longer phys­ic­ally with us but in sound and memory. We even did a trib­ute to Wu Tang! With our hands illu­min­at­ing the ‘Wu’ in grat­it­ude. “Slam!”… “Da duh duh Da duh duh”; we was rockin’ that!

The even­ing was topped off as Onyx per­formed almost an entirely new set from their new­est album release. Sticky Fin­gaz did a crazy stage dive and those up in the cen­ter threw him back on stage, also bring­in’ in that dope­ness of see­ing Sticky Fin­gaz climb some rails towards the upper tier from the DJ’s table and spit­tin’ whilst hangin’ off the side. It was nuts, but that sh*t was heavy. “Fuck the police!” got every­one roar­ing again. “Lon­don got that good weed, if you got som­min’ to smoke, light it up now…” People were haz­ing out the joint and the room was fogged in a mist, every­one still pumped to hear some more tunes. Onyx blared a last song in mad grandeur, shout­ing; “Come up and smoke some with Onyx!” before leav­ing the stage. People up in da house weren’t sat­is­fied! We wanted more! But the show was over after a elec­tri­fy­ing hour and a half…

It was one of the best of 2014 so far, no doubt.

Sh*t… BIG UP I Am Hip Hop magazine for let­tin’ me review that show… I’ma def­in­itely see Onyx again. That show was off da hook.

By Emcee Shiv­aOne

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Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal

Edit­or / PR Con­sult­ant at No Bounds
Rishma Dhali­w­al has extens­ive exper­i­ence study­ing and work­ing in the music and media industry. Hav­ing writ­ten a thes­is on how Hip Hop acts as a social move­ment, she has spent years research­ing and con­nect­ing with artists who use the art form as a tool for bring­ing a voice to the voice­less. Cur­rently work­ing in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media know­ledge to I am Hip Hop and oth­er pro­jects by No Bounds.

About Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal
Rishma Dhaliwal has extensive experience studying and working in the music and media industry. Having written a thesis on how Hip Hop acts as a social movement, she has spent years researching and connecting with artists who use the art form as a tool for bringing a voice to the voiceless. Currently working in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media knowledge to I am Hip Hop and other projects by No Bounds.

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